The U.S. Virgin Islands are rightly known as a shopping mecca: hundreds of merchants cater to a captive audience of cruise ship passengers, resort guests and boat enthusiasts. Add to that a generous $1600 duty-free allowance and no sales tax, you've got a shopaholic's paradise. But prices on most items aren't especially cheap – don't forget that everything has to be shipped or flown in, which adds to the bottom line.
This doesn't deter avid shoppers though, who come for the duty-free booze, cigarettes and jewels above all. The greatest concentration of such shops is found in St. Thomas near the main cruise ship port. The Havensight Mall's 100+ shops offer an array of merchants like AH Riise, Diamonds International, Passman, Little Switzerland and Royal Caribbean where rum, black coral pendants and Marlboros are on the menu. Branches of these stores are also found on St. Croix, and to a lesser extent, St. John.
Another thing the Virgin Islands is known for is funky boutiques selling eclectic crafts, handmade jewelry, and gift items. For example Bamboula on St. John offers musical instruments from Africa, the Estate Whim Museum Store on St. Croix has historical maps, and Tillett Gardens in St. Thomas features hand-crafted jewelry from dozens of local artisans. Crucian Gold on St Croix is famous for its distinctive bracelet designs, and Donald Schnell Studio on St. John is worth visiting for the gorgeous ceramics.
Name-brand clothing and designer goods are abundant at Yacht Haven Grande on St. Thomas, where shops like Gucci, Bulgari, Coach and Aqua Beachwear will empty your wallet. For more unique island styles, head to From the Gecko boutique in St. Croix, which offers fair-trade clothing lines made from organic materials.
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